A bungling farm worker caused more than £120,000 worth of damage after smashing into a sheltered housing complex.
Gregor Durno crashed the JCB tractor and then drove it home – leaving a trail of rubble behind him, taking police right to his door.
Durno had two friends – and a three-legged collie – in the tractor cab when he crashed into the building in Buckie on February 18 last year.
At Elgin Sheriff Court yesterday, the 31-year-old admitted a charge of dangerous driving.
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Prosecutors revealed that witnesses thought he was “showing off” as he drove two friends, one of whom was sitting on the floor of the cab, and a three-legged collie along the A98 Buckie-Banff road.
Durno took the tractor, which belonged to his family’s farm business, after his friends went to his home to ask for a lift after being left with no other way to get back to Buckie.
Sheriff Gary Aitken told the father, who has a previous conviction for dangerous driving from 2007, it was only “good fortune” that nobody was killed in the terrifying incident.
Fiscal depute Alex Swain described the driver swerving into the opposing carriageway as he drove along the route at about 4am.
Durno continued to drive at “excessive speed” through Buckie before eventually losing control on Land Street and smashing into the building.
Locals reported hearing a “loud bang” while residents inside who were awoken by the impact reported seeing a “large wheel” inside their home.
Miss Swain said: “The wall to the bathroom of the property was completely destroyed and significant damage was also caused to the area around the front door.
“The impact was such that there was also damage to the rear of the building and the communal stairwell to the first floor had actually shifted.”
Durno’s two passengers fled the scene on foot before he drove home – leaving a one-mile trail of rubble and broken parts from the tractor for police to follow.
When officers arrived at the farm property they saw blood on the windscreen of the damaged JCB.
Inside his home, they discovered two Jack Russell terriers kept in “disgusting” conditions in a kitchen covered in dog mess as well as a rusted shotgun.
Miss Swain said insurance companies had covered the cost of repairing the building, which is owned by Ark Housing Association, and replacing the JCB tractor.
Defence solicitor Ronnie Simpson said his client had hit the building after “over correcting” to avoid hitting a lamppost.
He stressed only the damage caused made the offence serious as opposed to the standard of driving – and revealed his client’s family was willing to make arrangements to repay the lengthy repair bills.
He added: “Mr Durno had hit rock bottom at the time of this. He was no longer taking care of himself, which had been passed on to the animals.
“The state of the kitchen would immediately give the impression of someone who was not well.
“He wishes to express his sincere apologies to all the residents of Land Street.”
Durno, of Cuttlebrae Farm in Clochan, pleaded guilty to charges of taking a vehicle without lawful authority, dangerous driving, possessing a shotgun without a valid licence and failing to take steps to ensure the care of the two Jack Russell terriers. Sentence was deferred until next month.